France, Germany seek ‘New Deal’ for Europe’s youth

France and Germany want a ‘New Deal’ for Europe’s young jobseekers that will aim to tackle the continent’s soaring youth unemployment rate
They want to use six billion Euros in loans pledged by the EU to help fund apprenticeships, encourage mobility and provide credit to small and medium-sized businesses. The announcement by the two governments has been welcomed by youth organisations. “The countries where they have a very low unemployment rate, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, are the ones that implement these apprenticeship schemes,” said Andrea Gerosa, the founder of Think Young, a group which lobbies for the interests of young people. “We very much welcome this initiative and we think that it’s key that not only the politics is involved but also companies (and) the European Investment Bank.”

The latest figures indicate 5.7 million people under the age of 25 years old are out of work across the EU. The European Commission says all member states need to take action. Olivier Bailly, EU Commission spokesman, said, “We see a lot of ideas floating around, some actually many of them echoed what the Commission has been proposing for the past 18 months, but it’s time to implement what has been already agreed.” The European Commission’s Youth Guarantee proposes offering a job or training to young people four months after leaving education or being out of work. EU leaders will put youth unemployment at top of their agenda at the next summit in June.

Mass youth unemployment is threatening particularly southern Europe with a lost and alienated generation. The global recession, followed by the austerity response to Europe’s debt crisis, meant jobless rates have skyrocketed. And there is no end in sight. A recent report from the UN’s International Labour Organisation forecast youth unemployment in Europe will not fall below 26 percent before 2015. Many who are in work have no job security, with 40 percent of young Europeans on temporary contracts.

Greece has the biggest problem, youth unemployment there was as a record of 64.2 percent in February. Nearly 56 percent of Spain’s under 25-year-olds were jobless in March; in Portugal it was 38.3 percent. Throughout the Eurozone, almost one in four young people is without a job. By comparison — the rate in the United States is just over 16 percent.

In response, European governments are also keen to increase youth training and internships as well as help young people relocate to find work. That is because some EU countries — particularly German — have large numbers of unfilled jobs. One proposal is to provide more money for the young to travel for training, perhaps by expanding the Erasmus foreign study programme.
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